Representatives from 83 countries gathered at the UN headquarters in New York last month to begin work towards an agreement to protect ocean biodiversity in the high seas. After two weeks of negotiations, the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee concluded on a very positive note. This meeting was the first of four two-week sessions which will be held before the end of 2017 and which it is hoped will lead to a formal intergovernmental treaty conference in 2018.
The Bertarelli Foundation supported the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee by hosting a reception for negotiators and members of civil society who have been promoting the idea of high seas protection for many years. Dona Bertarelli spoke to guests about her experiences as a sailor on the high seas and how the things she has seen have convinced her of the need to protect this important ecosystem.
Comprising approximately 75% of the ocean, the high seas provides ecosystem services that are critical to coastal areas, the planet as a whole and mankind. Whilst great strides have been taken in recent years to create marine reserves within countries territorial waters, if international protection targets are to be met, most scientists and conservationists now recognise that areas beyond national jurisdiction must also be protected.
At the conclusion of the Committee, Dona Bertarelli commented:
“I am very encouraged that after over 10 years of discussions, such positive steps are being taken to protect the high seas. There is still a very long way still to go, but I am heartened that the negotiators I met are so determined to deliver a robust treaty.”